Tuesday, March 19, 2013

American Bittern!

Florida 2013 continued

After seeing the sora and the loggerhead shrike I was pretty geeked. We'd only been in the park for 45 minutes or so and I already had two new birds (the reddish egret and the sora) and had seen a behavior I'd never witnessed (the shrike impaling the warbler). I'd also met some birders who we ended up hanging with for a little while, Bob and Janet Sanders of Crow Tours, who lead birding tours in Central Florida (you can reach them at 407-454-0542).

We returned to our vans and crept along the Black Point drive. It was not too long--only a few tenths of a mile perhaps--before my mother pointed out another bird on the far bank of the canal that runs along the road. I leaned forward and looked out her window to see an American bittern standing motionless in the water, right out in the open. I couldn't believe our luck!

The ever watchful American bittern.

Bob and Joyce pulled in behind us and we all got out to photograph and gawk. It's fun when people who see lots of birds still get as excited about a bird they've seen dozens of times as someone who has never seen one. I think we feed off each other.

I moved a little farther down the road to get some profile shots.

Then the bittern started to walk away through the shallow water. I hoped we weren't bothering it--the bird was literally less than 10 feet away.

I think it looks like an armadillo from behind.

 I finally picked up the tripod and scurried around to catch up.

I thought for a moment it was going to assume its defensive position, where it lifts its head up and points its beak to the sky in an attempt to look like grasses and reeds along the bank. That would have been neat to see, but instead the bird continued down the canal.

This image has great possibilities!

Herons and cranes, with their eyes located pretty far forward, have limited binocular vision which helps with depth perception when hunting prey. Here the bittern is clearly studying the water off to the side...


...while here it is looking forward.

It is amazing to me how perfectly colored and patterned this bird is, mirroring the colors and patterns of its habitat, right down to the greenish-yellow bill and legs.

It looks like it's about to call out, but it never made a sound.

I kept waiting for the bird to strike, but it never did. Ah well, you can't have everything!

As I was taking in the bittern I heard my mom, from farther up the road, announce that she'd found another bird....

Next:  The firsts continue!

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